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Academy Announces Initiative to Improve Member Diversity

2016 Oscars Host

Sorry Charlotte Rampling.

Despite some nominees’ insistence that it is they, the white people, who are suffering from the brutal oppression of racism, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to respond to the growing controversy over the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees by making some significant changes to how it selects its members, and then how it maintains those members once they’re admitted into the group.

Previously, once you were in the Academy, you were in for life, which meant a 90-year-old dude who hadn’t made a movie in 30 years (and whose values about social issues hadn’t changed in 50 years) could keep right on voting until they kicked the bucket. In a press release, the Academy said that would not longer be the case (except in certain circumstances). Here’s the most important changes they announced:

Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade.  In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.  We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members.  In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria.  Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status.  Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting.  This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

At the same time, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.

The announcement says the Academy will also add three new governor seats to its board, and that the organization is committed to “doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

It will be interesting to see if these moves are enough to quiet the growing outcry, or whether the controversy will continue to grow. (That may also depend on whether any other white nominees decide to rampling themselves out of contention with insensitive remarks.) These ideas seem like a good first step, even if they won’t change anything at this year’s Oscars. But what else was the Academy supposed to do? Revoke someone’s nomination? No way. The 2016 Academy Awards air on ABC on February 28.


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